Skift Take

Google's key priorities are artificial intelligence, retail, and YouTube. Travel is still an important vertical — it's just not a top focus.

Has travel been downgraded a tad at Google? This much is clear: Executives don’t talk about travel as among the company’s highest priorities.

Parent company Alphabet’s chief business officer, Philipp Schindler, told analysts Tuesday that Google’s “three key priority areas” are Artificial Intelligence, retail, and YouTube. For retail, think fashion, electronics, and furniture, for example.

In the previous two quarters, Google specifically cited retail and travel as driving revenue growth in Google’s “Advertising, Search and Other” segment.

Schindler said on Tuesday that the retail vertical led the 5% growth in that segment during the most recent quarter. Unlike the prior two quarters, travel was not mentioned as a growth driver.

There has been no indication that travel advertisers have been pulling back or that travel demand is diminishing. Google surely still makes a lot of money from travel advertisers.

Google Layoffs in January Heavily Impacted Google Flights

When Google announced it was laying off 6% of its workforce companywide in January, Skift reported exclusively that Google Flights was particularly hard hit with job cuts. We estimated that the layoffs at Google Flights reached 10-12%, and included managers with decades of airline experience. Among them were several senior engineers, a senior product specialist, and an employee who managed the airline pricing team.

A spokesperson at the time said travel remained a priority despite the layoffs.

And we reported this month that the company had recently replaced Richard Holden as general manager of Google Travel. He’d been in that relatively high-profile position for three years, and led product management in travel for nearly seven years before that.

Google hasn’t commented on why it replaced Holden. The company has said Holden hasn’t left Google, but didn’t elaborate on what he does.

Travel is almost certainly still an important vertical at Google. In June, Google announced that it had added some travel features to its AI-powered search experience. Instead of sorting through tons of information in response to a question about travel, the new feature enables you to view “an AI-powered snapshot of key information to consider, with links to dig deeper,” Google said.

But it stands to reason that when some areas such as AI, retail and YouTube get prioritized, other verticals get less.

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Tags: alphabet, artificial intelligence, earnings, generative ai, google, google flights, online travel newsletter, retail, youtube

Photo credit: Pictured is Menaggio, Italy on Lake Como. Source: Erskine-Kellie

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